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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Giambi's home run spurt prompts whispers of steroids
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published August 7, 2005
Jason Giambi did the Yankees a lot of good but didn't do himself any favors after hitting 14 home runs in July, most by a Yankee in a month since Mickey Mantle hit 14 in 1961.
Considering Giambi's history (remember the apology for - nothing) and Rafael Palmeiro's suspension for steroid use, well, you can see where this is going.
"I really don't care what people think," Giambi told New York reporters. "It was something accomplished by working hard. If somebody wants to shortchange it, that's their problem."
Giambi said he has put the steroid issue behind him and credited his resurgence - he was named July's AL player of the month and, entering Saturday, was batting .292 with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs - to taking pregame batting practice in the cages instead of on the field and hints from hitting coach Don Mattingly.
"What I was trying to do is see how many balls I could put in the seats," Giambi said. "Before long, I would be trying to see how many I could put in the upper deck. I was losing the sense of what I was trying to accomplish."
The oohs and aahs aren't there, but he'll trade that for cheers during a game.
"It's a nice thing," Giambi said. "It all came together. It was a big month. This ranks high up there on the list of things I've accomplished."
"I'm very happy for him," owner George Steinbrenner said through spokesman Howard Rubenstein. "He's gone through a lot, and he's proving to be a winner. I'm very proud of Jason Giambi."
MORE YANKEES: It's always something with this team. Now Gary Sheffield, in an article in New York magazine, is quoted saying Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not leaders.
Sheffield said the mag made it up. The writer claims he has Sheffield on tape. Whatever, Jeter and Rodriguez appeared to let the whole thing slide.
"He didn't have to explain it to me," Jeter told the Daily News. "Sheff's been a great teammate and a good friend of mine for a while."
"Every family has issues," A-Rod said. "When you think about what happens in this clubhouse, it's all very trivial."
AMAZING TURNAROUNDS: Like rooting for the underdog? Then you have to love the A's and Astros. Devastated by offseason changes, buried in the standings early, both would be wild-card playoff teams if the season had ended Friday night.
Oakland was 44-43 coming out of the All-Star break and 71/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West. Houston was 44-43 and 111/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
The A's, entering Saturday, were 18-4 since the break and one game behind Los Angeles. The Astros were 15-7 since the break and ... okay, so there's no way they can catch St. Louis.
Still, it has been quite a ride.
"It's just a lot of fun," Houston pitcher RogerClemens told the Associated Press. "Everybody is getting it done. We knew we had it. We need to keep pushing and see if we can ride this for a while like we did last year."
"It's awesome," A's pitcher Barry Zito told the AP. "But we can't get complacent. I'm sure all of us would like October to come sooner than it is."
Oakland was not first on anybody's list after aces Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were traded. But with the emergence of key rookies, including Nick Swisher, who entered Saturday leading AL rookies with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs, and after well thought-out trades, including one that brought outfielder Jay Payton, the A's are cruising. Houston was hit hard by the loss of free agents Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent. But the starters, including Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte, were leading the NL with a 3.44 ERA, tied for first with 535 strikeouts and second with 704 innings.
"I don't think anybody is feeling they have to carry this team," Astros outfielder Jason Lane said. "Different guys step up and do their parts."
BULLPEN BLUES: When the season began, the Red Sox bullpen looked like this: Blaine Neal and John Halama in middle and long relief; Alan Embree, Mike Timlin and Matt Mantei in setup roles; Mike Myers in the left-handed specialist role and Keith Foulke closing. Only Timlin and Myers remain.
Neal was designated for assignment in May. Mantei is out for the season after ankle surgery. Foulke is on the disabled list after arthroscopic knee surgery. Embree was designated for assignment in July and picked up by the Yankees. Halama, the former Rays reliever, was designated for assignment July26.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This city is by far the worst. You can't go out. It's Cameratown. It's not Beantown. I can understand where ( Manny Ramirez) is coming from. There's no room to breathe." - Boston pitcher David Wells on cable channel NESN's postgame show on why he goes right home after games.
ETC: The White Sox are scheduled to unveil today a statue of former catcher Carlton Fisk. ... Despite a 5-for-55 slump in July, Angels slugger Vlad Guerrero entered Saturday fifth in the AL in batting at .319. ... When Florida's Mike Lowell struck out in the second inning Friday, it ended a streak of 52 at-bats without a whiff, tops in the majors this season.